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Berkeley and Proof in Geometry



Berkeley in his Introduction to the Principles of Human knowledge uses geometrical examples to illustrate a way of generating “universal ideas,” which allegedly account for the existence of general terms. In doing proofs we might, for example, selectively attend to the triangular shape of a diagram. Presumably what we prove using just that property applies to all triangles.

I contend, rather, that given Berkeley’s view of extension, no Euclidean triangles exist to attend to. Rather proof, as Berkeley would normally assume, requires idealizing diagrams; treating them as if they obeyed Euclidean constraints. This convention solves the problem of representative generalization.



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Berkeley and Proof in Geometry



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